Rogue Valley News, Friday 5/3 – Child Exploitation Task Force Arrests Eagle Point Man for Victimizing Children Online Nationwide, Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center Is Contacting More Patients and Families About Infections Amidst Criminal Drug Diversion Case & Other Local and Statewide News…

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Friday,  May 3, 2024

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Child Exploitation Task Force Arrests Eagle Point Man for Victimizing Children Online Nationwide, Investigators Looking for Additional Victims

JCSO Case 22-4129 EAGLE POINT, Ore. – The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force arrested a Medford man on multiple child sex crime charges at 2:28 p.m. today in Eagle Point. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and Eagle Point Police Department assisted with the arrest at a business near the intersection of Hwy 62 and West Linn Road.

During their investigation, SOCET discovered the suspect was communicating nationwide with at least five underage victims through several social media sites. SOCET investigators identified a 13-year-old victim from Kansas City, Missouri, and are attempting to identify the additional underage victims.

The suspect, Zachary Elijah Bowen, 22, of Medford, Ore., was arrested on 12 felony charges including using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, 10 counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, and luring a minor. He was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

SOCET started investigating Bowen after more than a dozen National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) cyber tips led to multiple residences where he lived in Portland and at a licensed marijuana farm in Trail, Ore. SOCET served a search warrant on February 7, 2023, at the marijuana farm in the 4700 block of Highway 227 in Trail. Investigators seized digital devices for forensic examination by Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF).

Investigators found evidence of Bowen communicating nationwide with at least five underage victims through social media sites such as SnapChat, Instagram, Kik, and Google under the username “zach_grant2152.” If you have any information on Bowen, contact investigators through the Sheriff’s App “Submit a Tip” feature. Download the App here: https://apps.myocv.com/share/a72997501. You can also call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 22-4129.

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO and Homeland Security Investigations with some collaboration from Oregon State Police and Medford Police Department; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

This case is under further investigation with detectives following additional leads and attempting to identify other victims. Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. There is no further information available for release.

Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center Is Contacting More Patients and Families About Infections Amidst Criminal Drug Diversion Case

Shlesinger & deVilleneuve, a Medford law firm, states the hospital involved in a criminal drug diversion investigation is notifying more former patients or their families about possible injury or death related to more cases of in-hospital infection.

Medford attorney David deVilleneuve told NewsWatch 12 today his firm, Shlesinger & deVilleneuve, has a possible new civil case client who says Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center (Asante) contacted the client this week to notify that its related patient, who died, could have been infected at Asante.

“I’m interested in whether the hospital staff responded appropriately, not necessarily that the hospital staff was perpetrating a crime or actually stealing fentanyl, though I’m not ruling that out, either,” said deVilleneuve. “I’m investigating whether Asante responded to the increase in infections in a timely manner and in a responsible manner.”

deVilleneuve said today his firm now has 74 prospective client cases related to Asante and possible deadly drug diversion there. He said 15 cases with the strongest evidence could bring his firm’s initial civil case filings in the next 30-60 days.

deVilleneuve said eight of those 15 cases involve deaths of Asante patients, besides the new prospective client contact this week which indicates Asante is notifying more former patients who could have been affected adversely by a bacterial strain while at the hospital. He said the possible new case that surfaced this week involves a patient hospitalized at Asante in 2022.

“I’m concerned that maybe there’s a list or maybe a group of patients on their list that they (Asante) want to notify or they’ve tried to reach out, to some degree tried to reach out, but have never been contacted,” said deVilleneuve. “And maybe they’re in our community, and they don’t know they’re a potential victim because they’ve never been contacted.”

About Asante, deVilleneuve says, “I see no efforts on their part to inform the public about what’s going on. They are making efforts to whom they have articulated as potential victims. I’m concerned that maybe their search criterion isn’t going to pick up some of the potential victims. That’s why people who have not been notified by Asante or Medford Police Department should still call us because most of these people on our list have not been contacted by Medford PD or Asante, and they’ve all suffered from infections. That number (of his firm’s cases) alone doesn’t match up with the CDC numbers (for Asante in-hospital infections), so there’s a much higher rate of infections, I think, than has been reported, and so it begs the question, ‘Are there other people?’”

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said last week it had received Medford Police Department’s (MPD) criminal investigation of drug diversion at Asante. MPD said it started that investigation in December when Asante administration alerted police to its concern that hospital staff might have diverted drugs prescribed for patients. MPD said Jan. 3, 2024, “Additionally, there was concern that this behavior resulted in adverse patient care, though the extent of the impact on those patients is yet to be determined. MPD is actively working on investigating these claims.”

One claim became a civil case filed in February by Idiart Law Firm, when it listed Asante and its former nurse Dani Schofield as defendants for a case by the estate of Horace Wilson, who died at Asante Feb. 25, 2022. The case said Schofield charted that she administered fentanyl to Horace Wilson on several dates beginning Jan. 29, 2022, and, “In order to divert the fentanyl, Defendant SCHOFIELD replaced this entire quarter of a liter of ‘missing fluid’ with non-sterile tap water, thus reintroducing new inoculums of the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis into Horace Wilson’s bloodstream via his central line each time she administered the solution.”

MPD also said in January this year that the Department, “has received numerous calls from individuals asking if they or a family member have been impacted by the suspected actions of the former Asante employee. Asante has informed MPD that they have identified the involved patients and have notified or are in the process of notifying them or their families.”

deVilleneuve said this week’s Asante call to his prospective client causes him to expect more clients and claims to surface.

He said his firm’s investigation has noted that perhaps 10% of hospital staff are involved in drug diversion, which suggests it could be underway more broadly than the public knows.

deVilleneuve also said his firm’s investigation found some drug diversion involving clear fluid medicine either substituted saline solution as a sterile replacement or substituted nothing, leaving an intended patient in pain, so he’s surprised a medical professional would use tap water to replace an IV drug, knowing the possible illness it could cause. (SOURCE)

Several Oregon Cities Ranked Among the Best Places In The Nation To Call Home

livability

That’s according to Livability’s 2024 report on the 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S. >  https://livability.com/best-places/2024-top-100-best-places-to-live-in-the-us/

Livability looked at data on thousands of American cities and judged them based on nearly 100 data points, considering metrics like economy, housing, cost of living and amenities.  Beaverton, Hillsboro, Eugene, Medford and Salem all made the top 100 list.

 

Jerry Bruce Community Campus Non-profit Partners to Hold Second Annual Spring Family Fair and First-ever Charity Golf Scramble Saturday May 4th

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Jerry Bruce Community Campus (JBCC) partner organizations Family Development Center, The FISH Food Pantry, Umpqua Homes, Inc., United Community Action Network, and Aviva Health are holding the second annual Spring Family Fair Saturday, May 4, from noon to 3 p.m. in the Aviva Health parking lot just north of Costco in Roseburg.

This year, event organizers have also added a charity golf scramble to the weekend activities, which takes place Sunday, May 5, with a 9 a.m. shotgun start at Bar Run Golf & RV Resort.

Proceeds from the weekend events, whose title sponsor is Umpqua Health, benefit JBCC partner organization UHI, which offers a variety of important programs and services to community members with differing abilities.

The Spring Family Fair features fun, free activities for children and adults including an obstacle course, henna tattoos, face painters, balloon art, and performances by Halau Hula Aulani and a local belly dancing club, among others. Food is available for purchase from Wailani Shave Ice, Relished Dog, Best Lemonade in Town, and Granny’s Mini Hut.

Sunday’s golf scramble, which is already sold out, will offer cash prizes to the top three low-score teams, and players will also have a chance to win $5,000 should they score an ace on the par-3 15th hole.

Last year’s inaugural Spring Family Fair was attended by more than 1,000 community members, and organizers are hopeful for an even better turnout for 2024.

ABOUT THE JERRY BRUCE COMMUNITY CAMPUS — In the early 2000s, Jerry Bruce and a cadre of like-minded community leaders had a vision for a non-profit community campus that was home to a variety of community-based organizations, each providing programs and services to address over-represented needs in the community.

Jerry set in motion a planning and fundraising effort that quickly gained traction in the community, allowing for the purchase of land on the north end of Stephens Street in Roseburg.

Today the campus is home to Family Development Center, FISH Food Pantry, UHI, UCAN, and Aviva Health. Together, the non-profit organizations offer programs that strengthen families, prevent child abuse, address food insecurity, support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, childcare, address economic disparities, and fully integrated, comprehensive health care.

True to Jerry’s vision, the organizations work collaboratively to ensure Douglas County residents – irrespective of the challenges they may face – have a one-stop-shop solution for the myriad challenges they face, empowering them to live better, stronger, healthier, and stable lives. — Aviva Health

 

These are pretty good odds: About 1 in every 4 students who apply for an RCC Foundation scholarship will receive one. Most awards are $1,000-$6,000 per year. 💵💰
But you can’t receive a scholarship if you don’t apply! The deadline to apply for 2024-25 scholarships is June 1.  —-   Visit roguecc.edu/scholarships to get started.

National Small Business Week Celebrated April 28 to May 4, 2024

There are far-reaching advantages to deciding to “shop local.” By supporting local businesses, you are in turn supporting your local economy; significantly more money stays in a community when purchases are made at locally owned – rather than nationally owned – businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Association and the U.S. Department of Labor report the positive impacts of small, independent businesses on local economies.

  • Local businesses are more likely to utilize other local businesses such as banks, service providers, and farms.
  • For every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community.
  • Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales to the community in which they operate than chain competitors. Independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains.
  • Small businesses employ 77 million Americans and accounted for 65% of all new jobs over the past 17 years.

In addition to helping build the local economy, there are also notable intangible benefits that come from supporting businesses in your local community.

  • Local businesses are owned and operated by your neighbors!  They care about and are invested in the well-being of your community and its future.
  • Local businesses are more accountable to their local communities and donate more money to non-profits.
  • Supporting local businesses is good for the environment because they often have a smaller carbon footprint than larger companies.

It isn’t always the easiest or most convenient option to visit a local independent business rather than a large national chain that might be down the street. However, there are plenty of ways you can help support your local economy by thinking local first:

  1. Try the menu at a local restaurant for lunch or dinner
  2. Purchase a birthday present at a local gift shop
  3. Join a local gym
  4. Visit a local nursery or hardware store for your lawn and garden needs
  5. Get your car serviced at a local mechanic
  6. Visit a farmer’s market to purchase the ingredients for your family dinner.

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local First

  1. To shape and preserve our distinctive community character
  2. Local competition and diversity leads to more product choices
  3. It keeps and recirculates money in our community
  4. You’ll help support local job and opportunity creation
  5. It reduces environmental impact locally
  6. Because local businesses reinvest in our community
  7. It strengthens the local economy
  8. Because the local businesses help fund local non-profits
  9. To ensure that tax dollars stay local
  10. It encourages community pride and ownership

So the next time you need to run out for some groceries or do a little shopping, seek out a local business and see what they have to offer!  You could discover some great products and services while helping to build a strong and successful community around you.

When you invest money in your local economy, you’re not just helping local business owners — you’re also helping yourself. You’re making your town a better place to live in, with a rich character, thriving economy, and tightly knit community. And the more local businesses prosper, the more new ones will open, making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future.

Join the conversation and tell us about a great local business in your communityinfo@roguevalleymagazine.com

 

David Grubbs’ Murder Investigation Remains Active

Community still looking for answers in violent 2011 murder of David Grubbs on Ashland, Oregon bike path The Ashland Police Department’s investigation into the murder of David Grubbs on November 19, 2011 remains open and active. Recently two new detectives have been assigned to look into new leads that have come in.

This case remains important to David’s family, the community, and the Ashland Police Department. As detectives continue to pursue these new leads, anyone with additional information is encouraged to reach out to the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-2211. The reward for information leading to an arrest on this case remains at over $21,000.

Fauna Frey, 45, disappeared in Oregon on a road trip, June 29, 2020, following her brother’s death  —

https://original.newsbreak.com/@ada-e-1668135/3304227455096-fauna-frey-45-disappeared-in-oregon-on-a-road-trip-june-29-2020-following-her-brother-s-death

PART 2 – Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County

Here One Minute, Gone the Next —– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040 PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public. READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com.

Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

 

 

During Mental Health Awareness Month, OHA reminds Oregonians of support resources for those in need and their loved ones 

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority is recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month during May by promoting resources that support mental well-being for all Oregonians.

One in five people will experience a mental health condition in a given year, and about half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their lives, according to national statistics.

Nearly everyone faces challenges in life that can affect their mental health and emotional well-being.

“Too many people in our state are facing mental health challenges, and we want everyone to know you do not have to struggle alone,” said OHA Director Sejal Hathi, M.D., MBA.

Dr. Hathi, who has spoken about her mental health journey, added, “In many of our communities, societal or cultural norms discourage people from reaching out, or even admitting that we may need some help. Mental Health Awareness Month is a critical opportunity to highlight that mental health is health.”

Here are a few highlights of resources available for Oregonians:

  • OHA provides support for Community Mental Health Programs that provide services related to mental health, substance use, and problem gambling, in counties and communities across Oregon. A directory of these services, listed by county can be found
  • In Oregon, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The easy-to-remember 988 number is available for people experiencing any type of mental health challenge, substance use crisis or thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Anyone who needs support can call, text or chat in English and Spanish (interpretation services and American Sign Language are also available) and connect with trained crisis counselors. The 988 Lifeline is also a resource for friends and families concerned about a loved one.
  • The Mental Health Toolkit was created through a collaboration between OHA and Oregon Department of Education to help educators increase students’ academic achievement through meeting their mental and behavioral health needs.
  • Online resources from Sources on Strength – Sources of Strength has two online resource packets. The first is Resources for Practicing Strength at Home, and the second is a shorter version that also offers a wellness plan. Any resource in these packets can be used in classrooms, staff meetings, in individual or group counseling, or to practice strength wherever you are.

OHA encourages communities, organizations, and individuals to use the month of May to help raise awareness of mental health and well-being.

15 Portland Police Vehicles Burned at Training Facility

At least 15 police training vehicles were set on fire early Thursday morning at the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) training division located on Northeast Airport Way, PPB reported.

At around 1:55 a.m., officers and firefighters were dispatched to the training center, where they found at least 15 vehicles on fire inside a fenced training area. Firefighters put out the fires. PPB said no injuries were reported and the building was not damaged. Portland police have not said whether the arson at the PPB training center was done by protesters. Hours earlier, protesters had marched through downtown Portland, smashing windows at businesses and blocking traffic.

PPB Chief Bob Day posted a statement on social media, saying that property destruction won’t be tolerated.

“I am disheartened by the acts of vandalism over the last 12 hours. Damaging downtown businesses and vehicles at our Training Division is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” he wrote. “I understand people in our community are hurting, but in no way is property destruction a productive way to address that angst. I want the community to know these criminal actions will be fully investigated.”

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek released a statement condemning the criminal actions over the past week.

“I fully condemn the criminal actions taken Thursday morning that resulted in the burning of 15 Portland Police Bureau cars and endangers first responders and the surrounding community,” Kotek wrote. “I have absolutely no tolerance for discriminatory harassment, violence, or property damage. This includes the acts of vandalism seen this week at the Portland State University library and against nearby businesses.

“These actions are in direct opposition to Oregon values and threaten working people, families, businesses, and our community as a whole. The Oregon State Police have launched a response on the outer perimeter of Portland State University. The state is prepared to exercise the full extent of the law.” (SOURCE)

Demand for Electricity in the Pacific Northwest Expected to Jump 30%

Demand for electricity in the Pacific Northwest is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade and the region’s power sources may not be able to keep up.

That’s according to a new annual report out this week from the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee.

The Portland-based industry think tank projects demand will grow by over 30% over the next 10 years. That’s three times the growth in demand the group predicted three years ago.

“It really is this dual challenge of meeting this extraordinary growth and demand for electricity — while you’re transitioning to lower carbon emitting resources — that is translating into an urgent and tremendous need for upgrading the region’s electricity infrastructure,” said Crystal Ball, executive director of the group. (SOURCE)

PNW News: UPDATE – The last of four zebras that escaped Sunday from a trailer on Interstate 90 is still on the loose in the Seattle suburb.

zebra

King County officials are asking community members concerned about a missing zebra who is likely somewhere along the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail to stay away.

People have flooded the area, bringing unleashed dogs and mountain bikes and scaring off the zebra, Metropolitan King County Councilmember Sarah Perry said Thursday.

Perry asked the director of the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks on Thursday morning to close off the Boxley Creek area to the public to help capture the zebra.

Parks employees will post “trail closed” signs Friday morning at key access points along the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail near the Boxley Creek Natural Area, department spokesperson Eleanor Lee said.

The zebra, known as Z, remained on the loose Thursday after escaping a trailer Sunday on Interstate 90, when her owner stopped on the side of the road to secure the trailer in North Bend. The three other zebras were returned to their trailer. Their owner was transporting them from Lewis County to Montana, where she runs a 7-acre petting zoo.

Contrary to initial reports, the missing zebra is a mare, or female zebra, the Regional Animal Services of King County said Thursday.

“Help us rescue him by staying away for a couple days and just hearing about it, then we will have a chance,” Perry said. “But with all this mountain biking, dogs and people, he’s never going to come forward.”

“It’s in an environment it’s not used to,” Satterfield said. “It’s scared.”

Animal control officers are stepping up patrols in the area, Satterfield said, and officials are relying on neighbors to report any zebra sightings. The King County Sheriff’s Office asked anyone who sees the zebra to call 911 or 206-296-7387.

“DO NOT try to capture it yourself,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.

Ultimately, Satterfield said, the goal is to recapture the zebra and get him back on the path to Montana. “We really don’t want a zebra running wild through the foothills of the Cascades,” he said. (SOURCE)

May is Wildfire Awareness Month

SALEM, Ore. – May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Oregon experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer months, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies, will be spreading the word about the steps we all can take to prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires this summer, and encouraging Oregonians to create defensible space around homes and outbuildings.

At stake: lives, property and scenic beauty – Each year, over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burn piles or gas-powered equipment and vehicles casting sparks or catching fire.

During the 2023 fire season, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported that people were directly responsible for sparking 823 wildfires that burned 6,197 acres. Any spark can gain traction in dry vegetation, spread quickly and impact lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s scenic natural areas.

Before heading outdoors this summer, contact the agency or landowner who manages the land at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should be familiar with these restrictions before building campfires or using equipment that could ignite a wildfire.

Put Your Smokey Hat On – Smokey Bear is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Smokey is a beloved and trusted American icon that has educated the public on preventing human caused wildfires since 1944. His timeless and important message celebrates people who take responsibility and prevent wildfires. Smokey’s hat is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s 2024 summer wildfire prevention campaign. “Put Your Smokey Hat On” is a call to action, encouraging the public to predict the outcome of their actions and do everything they can to prevent wildfire ignitions. Campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.

Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips – During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal at https://www.oregon.gov/osfm/education/pages/prevent-wildfires.aspx

Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media: Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and @OSFM

OHCS on track to help hundreds of disaster survivors through the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program

Program moves into application and review phase — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is moving into the application phase of the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program (HARP) after receiving nearly 800 Eligibility Questionnaires from survivors of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires and straight-line winds. This is an important milestone only made possible because of the partnership of local organizations.

ReOregon, an OHCS program, launched HARP at the end of March to help homeowners with low to moderate incomes who still need assistance to repair, rebuild, or replace their homes in the wake of the disasters.

“The HARP program is now progressing into the application review phase, which brings us closer to getting survivors the resources they need on their path to recovery,” said Ryan Flynn, director of Disaster Recovery and Resilience at OHCS. “We also want to thank all of our outreach and intake partners for their help in reaching and assisting hundreds of survivors. We couldn’t do this without them.”

ReOregon is now working on notifying more than 300 of the 800 people who submitted questionnaires with instructions on how they can apply for HARP. Local culturally specific organizations are helping households that may need additional support navigating the application process. ReOregon estimates there may be more survivors who may be eligible for assistance in later phases of HARP.

Those who are interested can still fill out the Eligibility Questionnaire on the re.oregon.gov website where eligibility requirements are also listed.

For assistance with the process, contact the ReOregon Call Center at 1-877-510-6800 or 541-250-0938 or email t@oregon.org“>housingsupport@oregon.org. Additionally, OHCS has partnered with community-based organizations to provide in-person support. A full list of these partners is on the re.oregon.gov website.

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)  – OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of low and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.

OHA Director visits Central Oregon on fifth regional visit, hears community concerns

(Bend, OR) – Director of Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Dr. Sejal Hathi, visited Central Oregon this week and heard about the health issues that are of greatest concern to local residents and health care providers.

Feedback from the Central Oregon community was consistent, from a lack of affordable housing to barriers to mental health treatment and workforce shortages. She also heard about steps local clinics are taking to give people greater access to mental health treatment in primary care clinics and growing number of local people who are receiving substance use services through Measure 110.

Central Oregon is the fifth region Dr. Hathi has visited since she was confirmed by the legislature as OHA’s permanent director in February.

“One of the most consistent appeals I heard was for the state to do its best to sustain some of the services our public health and community-based partners have built over the past few years, with federal as well as Measure 110 funding, which continues to fill real and previously unmet needs. Even and especially as federal pandemic-era funding comes to an end, it would be a huge loss to let those services wither,” Dr. Hathi said.

Monday, Dr. Hathi started her visit to Central Oregon at Pacific Source, a Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), then toured Mosaic Community Health’s Conners Health Center in Bend. She visited Rimrock Trails, which provides comprehensive counseling and treatment services for individuals and families struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. Tuesday, Dr. Hathi met with Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs) and Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs) from Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook and Wheeler Counties. She also toured the Deschutes County Stabilization Center; a crisis care clinic in Bend.

“We found Dr. Hathi to be a great listener and really appreciate that she genuinely wants to learn about the regional healthcare needs that we face here in Central Oregon,” said Megan Haase, FNP and CEO of Mosaic Community Health. “We look forward to continuing our conversation and collaboration in the future.”

Dr. Hathi also discussed her three biggest policy priorities as OHA Director: eliminating health inequities, transforming Oregon’s behavioral health system, and expanding access to affordable health care.  But she emphasized that local input will inform and shape OHA’s approach to this work, as well as its partnerships with community.

Here is a link to the video of what Dr. Hathi said she learned during her visit to Central Oregon] She will head to Hood River and Pendleton later this month to speak with Oregonians. A full schedule of all of Dr. Hathi’s upcoming regional listening visits is  posted on her web page.

Springfield Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison for Repeatedly Possessing and Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material

EUGENE, Ore.—A Springfield, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for repeatedly possessing and distributing photos and videos depicting child sexual abuse.

Randy Lee Cook, 43, was sentenced to 168 months in federal prison and a life term of supervised release.

According to court documents, in 2006, Cook was convicted of state child pornography charges in Missouri and served a significant prison sentence for sending child sexual abuse material to a minor, engaging in sexual chats with the minor, and then engaging in additional sexual chats with an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a minor and propositioning the decoy minor for sex. Following his release from prison, Cook was required to register as a sex offender.

In the summer of 2020 and spring of 2021, investigators learned that Cook had resumed distributing child sexual abuse material online, this time using Kik Messenger, an instant messaging mobile application. Investigators traced multiple Kik accounts to Cook and learned he was residing in Springfield. On June 11, 2021, investigators executed search warrants on Cook’s residence, truck, and person. Cook’s phone was found to contain approximately 194 images and 63 videos depicting child sexual abuse.

In July 2021, Cook was charged by criminal complaint with possessing and distributing child pornography and arrested. On July 20, 2023, a federal grand jury in Eugene indicted him on the same charges.

In December 2023, while Cook’s case was being litigated, an FBI task force officer in Louisiana investigating an unrelated matter began conversing with an individual on Kik who was later determined to be Cook. In conversations online with the officer, Cook claimed to have engaged in sex acts with children and sent the agent an explicit video of a child. On December 14, 2023, Cook was arrested a second time when he was leaving his Springfield residence to plead guilty in federal court.

On January 24, 2024, Cook pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

This case was investigated by the FBI Eugene Resident Agency with assistance from the FBI New Orleans Field Office, Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Shreveport Police Department. It was prosecuted by William McLaren, Marco Boccato, and Mira Chernick, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document the victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, they re-victimize and re-traumatize the child victims each time their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.missingkids.org.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Justice Department to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

One quarter of Oregon’s 197 school districts will get summer school money from state

The Oregon Department of Education is doling out $30 million to school districts and charters for summer programming this year

Most Oregon school districts and the hundreds of thousands of students that they serve, once again, will not benefit from any additional summer school funding from the state this year.

The Oregon Department of Education recently released the list of 48 school districts and 24 charter schools that will have access to a portion of $30 million allocated for summer school during the short legislative session in February. The selected districts have until May 3 to submit their plans to receive their allocated money or to decline.

The state is allocating $20,000 to $1.5 million to each of those 48 districts, depending on the number of students served. The state’s 19 education service districts this year will also each get between $20,000 and $80,000 to help support multiple districts within their boundaries, but overall, only about one-quarter of the state’s 197 school districts will get additional funding. An estimated 48,000 students will benefit, according to a news release from Gov. Tina Kotek. There are more than 547,000 students enrolled in Oregon public schools.

Districts that get additional money will be able to pay for more credit recovery programs, tutors and other classes that can help students get caught up in key subjects and grade-level knowledge this summer. Others will likely have to limit some offerings.

The Oregon Department of Education prioritized allocating money for districts with high proportions of historically underserved students, and it focused on helping small and rural districts and spreading out payment based on geographic diversity, according to Marc Siegel, a spokesperson for the agency.

Portland Public Schools is on a waiting list for $1.5 million, as are some of the largest districts within different parts of the state, including the Medford, Eugene and Bend-La Pine school districts.

“As the largest district in the state, estimated to serve more than 3,000 focal students this summer, we are disappointed that we will not likely have an opportunity to apply for the funding passed by the Legislature this spring,” said Sydney Kelly, a spokesperson for Portland Public Schools.

She said the district found one-time funding sources to help this summer and will adjust offerings to account for the lack of money, but she said the district needs sustainable funding from the state to offer summer school going forward.

The $30 million allocation from the Legislature is significantly less than the hundreds of millions that districts received in the two years immediately following pandemic school closures and the $50 million that Kotek wanted lawmakers to pass this session. Advocates for summer school had hoped the Legislature would continue a higher level of funding to get students caught up following more than a year of school closures and to address behavioral health issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It is important to note that the $30 million allocated under House Bill 4082, while substantial, is significantly less than the $200 million and $150 million provided during the peak of federal pandemic aid in 2021 and 2022, respectively,” Siegel said in an email. “Those exceptional amounts reflected the temporary availability of federal resources, which are no longer available.”

Most Oregon school districts have spent their portion of the $1.6 billion of pandemic aid money sent to Oregon from the U.S. Department of Education. About $319 million remains to be spent before the funding expires in September, according to state data.

During the summer of 2023 lawmakers did not allocate any additional money for summer school or community-based summer learning programs. Some programs that were staffed in 2021 and 2022 shut down in 2023. School districts and larger groups such as YMCA and Boys & Girls Club cut field trips and other offerings. A survey from the Oregon Afterschool & Summer for Kids Network, or OregonASK, a nonprofit network of educational groups, found that despite increased demand statewide, about half of community groups were forced to scale back programs without the additional state funding.

Districts are allowed to partner with nonprofit community groups and to use the money to collaborate on programming. Whitney Grubbs, executive director of the nonprofit Foundations for a Better Oregon, said she expects a “meaningful” level of district funding to reach community-based organizations, but that they’ll need more in the future.

“It’s an important start, but still nowhere near enough,” Grubb said in an email. “Students in every community deserve access to summer learning, and many school districts and community-based organizations are spotlighting the overwhelming desire and need to do more.” (SOURCE)

Oregon Secretary of State releases 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a civic engagement toolkit today, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections. The tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office. Download the 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit here.

 

Oregon Offers Electric Car Rebates Again – Apply Now Until June 3rd

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Due to high demand and limited funding, OCVRP will be open for a short time in 2024. Vehicles must be purchased or leased between April 3, 2024, to June 3, 2024, to be eligible for a rebate. Applicants have six months from their date of purchase or lease to apply. Low- and moderate-income households can prequalify for the $5,000 Charge Ahead rebate by completing the application now at https://apps.oregon.gov/DEQ/Voucher/apply.

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies. The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

 

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